Semiconductor expert Loren Pfeiffer wins ‘Innovator’ award for pioneering work on ultra-pure materials

Written by
Sharon Waters, for the Office of Engineering Communications
Oct. 3, 2023

Loren Pfeiffer has won the American Vacuum Society’s 2023 Art Gossard MBE Innovator Award in recognition of his world-leading expertise in molecular beam epitaxy.

Pfeiffer, a senior research scholar in electrical and computer engineering, focuses on developing the world's highest-quality systems of charge carriers in gallium arsenide (GaAs). Molecular beam epitaxy involves depositing atom-thick layers of super-pure semiconducting material onto a substrate. In Pfeiffer’s case, that work enables the study of exotic properties of electrons. Pfeiffer’s work provides samples for many of the leading research labs around the world to investigate the physics that can be discovered when systems of electrons are confined to two or fewer dimensions.

Recent research by Pfeiffer and his team includes understanding limits to mobility in ultra-high-mobility GaAs two-dimensional electron systems, examining record-quality GaAs two-dimensional systems and designing rules for growing the semicondutor aluminum arsenide in quantum wells.

Pfeiffer earned his Ph.D. in physics from Johns Hopkins University. He previously was a distinguished member of technical staff at Bell Laboratories. Pfeiffer was elected to the National Academy of Science in 2011, and was the solo winner of the American Physical Society’s James C. McGroddy International Prize for New Materials in 2004. Recognitions by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation include selection as a Principal Investigator for Materials Synthesis and receipt of Individual Investigator Grants in multiple years. He joined Princeton as a senior research scholar in 2009.

Founded in 1953, the American Vacuum Society is a nonprofit focused on disciplines related to materials, interfaces and processing with approximately 4,500 members from academia, governmental laboratories and industry. The Art Gossard MBE Innovator Award recognizes individuals whose innovative work has significantly advanced the field of molecular beam epitaxy in one or more of four categories: materials research, device development, device commercialization and equipment development. The winner is selected by the North American MBE Advisory Board. The annual award consists of a plaque and a check of $3,000.